The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has accused the United States of initiating a “color revolution” in China after the U.S. Embassy in China posted its 2021 “Public Diplomacy Grants Program,” (pdf) offering up to a $30,000 grant for “projects that strengthen ties between the United States and China.”
According to the program, individuals, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions can apply for a grant to support priority areas such as: American society and values, culture, health, and language. One of the priority areas is projects that “support the enhancement of U.S.-China people-to-people relations, particularly understanding of the United States among the Chinese people.”
The program has somehow angered the CCP. One of its main mouthpieces, The Global Times, accused the United States of recruiting a “fifth column” (a group of people who undermine a larger group from within) in China, and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blamed the United States for staging a “color revolution” (attempt to destabilize a country through a precipitating event) in China.
On May 19, Zhao accused the United States of “interfering in the internal affairs of other countries around the world, exerting malicious influence, and even creating color revolutions” under the guise of democracy and human rights.
“One has to wonder about the true intentions of the U.S. program in question,” Zhao said at a routine press conference of the CCP’s Foreign Ministry.
In a May 15 article, The Global Times criticized the United States for trying to root out a subversive group in China. The report quoted Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, as saying that “the U.S. Department of State has been instigating a plan to infiltrate China, including Hong Kong and Macau, with propaganda under the guise of ‘public diplomacy’ and to provide financial support and transfer benefits to ‘specific people’ or ‘organizations’ under the guise of cultural activities, and even to instigate a ‘color revolution.’”
The article was widely posted on many Chinese websites.
Fooling the Public is the CCP’s Long-Term Strategy
In an interview with The Epoch Times, veteran Chinese media personality Huang Jinqiu said that the reason why the CCP was so angry about the program is that it could work against the CCP’s long-term brainwashing.
“The government has been brainwashing the people through the propaganda system for a long time. People don’t have independent thinking. The CCP wants them to be foolish, weak, and slaves,” Huang said.
He further said that the CCP fears that people in mainland China will learn about the real America through the projects supported by the program, and the CCP’s past propaganda against the United States will be invalidated. This makes the CCP feel threatened.
“After being awakened, the people may demand democratic power and votes, which is what the CCP calls a destabilizing factor. That is also why even if you have the internet, the CCP will try its best to block the information,” he stressed.
Differentiating the CCP From the Chinese People
Huang said the U.S. Embassy’s approach is a continuation of former President Donald Trump’s policy of separating the CCP from ordinary Chinese people.
“The former U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo made it clear that China is not equal to the CCP, and the CCP is not equal to the Chinese people. So the Trump administration targeted the CCP while showing sympathy and support for ordinary Chinese people.”
Huang said that the CCP was very furious about this differentiation: “That’s why the CCP wants to tie itself with the Chinese people. If we have to die, we die together. The Party wants to transfer the suffering to the people.”
Huang also said that the U.S. Embassy will not impose political indoctrination or demands on Chinese people. What it tries to do is only to provide Chinese people with a window to see the larger world, breathe the free air, and think independently.
However, the CCP’s cultural exchanges are mixed with propaganda and other agendas. Huang said it can be hard to tell whether they are genuine cultural exchanges, the CCP’s United Front Work, or even spying activities.